South Korean Long Range Missiles
The United States and South Korea struck a new deal on long range missiles which would allow Seoul to deploy longer-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in all of North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported on 08 October 2012. “The agreement, known as the ‘missile guideline,’ calls for extending the maximum range of South Korean ballistic missiles from the current 300 kilometers to 800 kilometers, a distance long enough to reach the northern tip of North Korea,” the agency quoted presidential security aide Chun Yung-woo as saying. Under the new agreement, South Korea can load ballistic missile warheads heavier than the prior limit of 500 kilograms, providing the ranges decreases in proportion, while warheads of up to 1.5 tons can be put on missiles if the range remains at 300 km. The deal also increases the maximum payload for a South Korean unmanned aerial vehicle to 2.5 tons from the current 500 kilograms.
Under an agreement with Washington in 1972, Seoul agreed to set its missile range ceiling at 180 km in exchange for US missile technology. Through reverse-engineering of US-supplied missiles, South Korea produced two versions of a two-stage, solid-fuel SSM based on the US Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile: NHK-1 (180 km/500 kg) and NHK-2 (260 kn/450 kg). South Korea also produced a variant of the Honest John heavy artillery rocket (37 km/500 kg). A cluster warhead system was sold to South Korea in 1977 but most countries had phased out this weapon by the 1980s.
Unlike the systematic and ambitious missile development of North Korea, South Korea has proceeded with the support and under the control of the US. South Korea's missile development started during the later years of former President Park Chung-Hee with an aim to reduce the gap in missile capability between the both Koreas.
Nike-Hercules, the American missile deployed in South Korea, was used as a model for development. With poor foundation in industrial technologies, South Korea requested US support for related equipment and technology, but could not get the agreement of the US Department of State. This forced South Korea to seek a different route to import missile technology. Recognizing the intention of South Korea, the US urged the South Korean government to sign a written agreement that South Korea should not develop missiles over a certain range.
Considering the important relationship between South Korea and the US, the South Korean government agreed to restraints on the range and payload of missiles when developing the first South Korean ground-to-ground missile called Baekkom / Baek Gom [almost never Paekgom] (White Bear). Since then, the US applied stricter restraints (180 km/500 kg) than the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) on South Korea. The Paekgom was test-launched successfully in 1978, but was never deployed in actual service at to the request of the US.
North Korea test-fired its Taepodong-1 missile, with an estimated range of more than 1,300 km, in August 1998. Subsequently, in 1999 Seoul asked Washington to agree to extend South Korea's missile range to 300km for deployment and to 500 km for scientific research and development.
NHK-A [Hyunmoo III ?]
The nomenclature for this weapon system is uncertain. Many sources, to include Janes, adopt the designation Hyon Mu 3 or NHK-3 for the recently developed 300 km ballistic missile. Other sources maintain that the Hyunmoo III designation refences a much longer range ground launched air-breathing cruise missile. The fact of the existence of both missiles is fairly well established, the only point of confusion being the nomenclature associated with each.
South Korea aroused American concerns in April 1999 when it test-fired a missile that flew just 50 kilometers off the South Korean west coast. The missile, launched from a newly built test station, was believed to have been capable of flying 10 times as far - but was sent on only a short flight in deference to US concerns. The South Korean Defense Ministry, however, was believed to have stepped up the pace of research and development of the missile even though it has not conducted a new test.
In November 1999 it was reported that US spy-satellite photos had revealed that South Korea had built a rocket motor test station in 1998 without notifying the United States. The station, which includes a large concrete or tempered steel cradle in which rocket motors are locked for firing tests, appeared to have been built secretly as part of a larger South Korean ballistic missile program. South Korean officials said privately that Seoul had acquired technology for a longer-range missile from European countries and is developing its "next-generation" missile.
The US and ROK governments agreed in principle in November 1999 to extend Seoul's deployment range to 300km, though additional details required clarification in subsequent negotiations. The ROK Defense Ministry requested the ATACMS Block 1A missiles in December 1999, but negotiations the US continued to delay talks on allowing South Korea to deploy missiles with a range of up to 300km.
On 17 January 2001 the South Korean government announced it would develop and deploy missiles with a range of up to 187 miles and a payload of up to 1,100 pounds. The South previously had been bound by a 1979 agreement with Washington not to build missiles with a range greater than 112 miles. "By adopting the new guideline, our government will be able to develop and possess missiles with enough range capabilities to meet our security needs," said a Foreign Ministry statement. In an apparent attempt to dispel concerns over a possible arms race on the Korean Peninsula, the government also pledged to join the global Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). South Korea is set to join the MTCR at a March 2001 meeting of 32 signers of the treaty.
Several sources have suggested that South Korea planned the development of a successor to the NHK-2, the NHK-A. This missile was purported to have a longer range than the NHK-2, perhaps as long as 320 km. Very little information is available in the unclassified literature. In addition, the ROK test launched its first independently developed space launch vehicle, the KSR. While there was initially no information about the KSR in the unclassified literature, one source stated that the KSR could be modified into a ballistic missile with a 900 km range.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that a 250 km range version, known as NHK-A, was designed but not developed. A modified NHK-2 or NHK-A was tested in April 1999 and flew 40 km, although it was reported that this missile had the capability to reach a range of 300 km. A Hyon Mu 3 (or NHK-3) version was reported to have a range of 300 km, and in 2009 it was reported that around 100 of these missiles were operational. A report in June 2006 indicated that South Korea planned to retain the Nike-Hercules SAM in service until 2010, which might indicate that the ballistic missile version was operational.
South Korean army Major General Shin Won-sik, briefing domestic defense reporters at the ministry on 19 April 2012, announced the South Korean military had deployed a new tactical ballistic missile with a range of 300 kilometers. South Korea was bound by an agreement with the United States to limit its ballistic missiles to a range of 300 kilometers, but slower, surface-skimming cruise weapons are exempt from the agreement.
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